Review: I am Nujood, Age 10 and divorced by Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui

 

This book is very depressing. It is the story of a young girl who is denied an education, married off at an incredibly young age,  and is raped and beaten by her husband. Nujood’s story is not unique, especially in Yemen, What makes her story unique is that she fights and is granted a divorce. This book tells her story, starting from when she is very young. It tells how she came to be married to her husband, how he and his family treated her, and how she ran away and found someone willing to help her. My only problem with this book is that it claims to be written in her own words with the help of Delphine Minoui..but Nujood is only ten and illiterate. It seems as though she was greatly helped by Minoui – to the point where I was wondering if Nujood really ever said the things that I was reading. I would have appreciated more reflection by Nujood in her own words.  However, stories like this are so important to tell. There are so many heartbreaking issues revealed in Nujoods story that highlight how awful it is in Yemen to be a woman, how helpless many women are because of the severe poverty they face and the laws in the country that hold them down and give men absolute power of their lives. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed this book, but I feel as though I learned so much.

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Review: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday

This book was so “meh” to me. I don’t really know how else to describe it. The premise didn’t strike me as anything that great, but because it was turned into a movie and had gotten quite a bit of praise I decided to give it a read. There wasn’t really one thing I liked about the plot or the characters. And if you’ve read my other posts you’ll know that I don’t feel that I have to like plots or characters all that much to enjoy a book, sometimes it’s enough for a book to just be well-written. But this book felt like it was past redemption. I don’t mean to rag on this book because it wasn’t horrendous, I just really didn’t like it and couldn’t see past all the cliches and stereotypes. The main character Fred is tedious, boring, unsatisfied but unwilling to change, stubborn, and just unenjoyable as a perspective. Then we have his wife – the work obsessed nag who overlooks her husband and takes her marriage for granted. Fred’s boss and the political people involved in the plot to introduce salmon fishing into the Yemen by a rich sheikh are all stupid and self-centred, pushing for something that probably won’t work, could have disastrous effects, and look bad to the public in a time where budgets have been cut and there is tension with the middle east. And the Sheikh… “have faith”, “you just have to believe”, it was too much. All these tired cliches with a mildly intriguing, but over the course of the story proved boring, plot. The only character that I enjoyed was Harriet. She was someone who had to work with Fred to work out the logistics of the plan. I could have gotten over the plot if it wasn’t so boring. The format was a bit different from a normal novel; there was diary entries, emails, letters, and court/interview recordings. That could have been cool, but to me it wasn’t. Not with how the whole thing came together. It just struck me as a bit of a fail, which is why I’m so surprised it was made into a movie. I won’t say that I hated this book, but I really would not recommend it to anyone.

Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

This book, you guys! I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it so much, or be so moved by the story. I’m so glad I read it! I just kind of picked it up and thought “why not?” and then brought it with me on vacation – where I usually take my light reads. But this book hit me pretty hard. Set in Seattle in the 1940s and 1980s it follows an American man of Chinese descent as he looks back on WWII when his American born girlfriend of Japanese descent is sent to an internment camp. Being from Vancouver I am familiar with that nasty part of history. My friend has a cabin in the area where some Japanese people were sent. I’m glad I was able to read more about it and have this part of history personalized a bit. Jamie Ford is a great writer, I was able to glide through the pages and really feel as though I were there. His portrayal of 1942 felt very authentic. He does a great job of making you feel like you’re there; I felt like I was walking the streets, listening to jazz, and could almost smell the ocean. He also really makes you sympathize for children of immigrants who are trying to fit in to the country they were born in while also trying to appease their parents and stay true to their cultural heritage. That cannot be easy. On top of all that this story is about turmoil, racism, regret, difficult decisions, guilt, and a life lived the best way a person knows how.  Every character feels real, they feel like actual people with dimensions and complicated personalities. That is not something that you find in every book.

I think this book should be mandatory grade school curriculum. Especially in the United States and Canada. I would recommend it to anyone and would love to hear what other people thought of it.

Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

I loved this book, I could hardly put it down and read it so much faster than the last few books I’d read. The story is set in 1868 in Amsterdam. An 18 year old girl moves from the country to the city to live with her new husband. He’s wealthy and lives with his sister and 2 servants and Nella moves in to start a new life. The history, and setting, and interesting characters are what really drew me in to the story – and then things started happening. I didn’t find this book predictable and I was surprised a few times with the direction the story went. I kept thinking I knew what would happen next, who the mystery woman was, and what was going to happen to a few of the characters and I was wrong every time. I liked that. I like being wrong in my predictions when the book is written well and the plot has been carefully constructed. It was one of those books where something happens and you go back a few chapters and realize you missed a lot of clues.

I can’t believe this is her first novel, her writing in incredible, she can really set a scene without over-explaining and piling on adjectives. I would love her to write a thriller!

I didn’t like the ending as much though, and I have to say it. It just ended.. All of this drama and intrigue and suspense…and then things climax and its over. The only thing I dislike more than not getting to vent my frustration is my dislike of spoilers. But don’t let that keep you from reading the book! Maybe there will be a sequel to tell us all what happened next.

Review: Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair by Elizabeth McNeill

This book was first published in 1978, and made into a movie in 1986. So it’s not new. But I read it because I hated hated HATED Fifty Shades of Grey.. I came across this list of books to read if you liked the idea of Fifty Shades but wanted to actually read a well-written book that was more realistic. I have never been in a relationship that involved a Sub/Dom aspect and I don’t think I ever will be, but I was curios about it. This book is short, less than 120 pages and it is based on the real-life experiences of a woman in New York in the early 1970’s. Her identity was later revealed but thats not important for me. I enjoyed this book because it let me in on an experience that I have never had; an experience and perspective that most people probably wouldn’t be so open about.

This book was very insightful and felt incredibly honest. The woman met a man at a street fair while she was shopping with her friend. They started casually dating and he was unlike any man she’d met before. And then it turned into a sexually aggressive relationship that she had never expected. She goes into full detail explaining how it happened, and how she felt, and what it was like to be in that situation. Some scenes were pretty intense, and there were quite a few times where I couldn’t understand how she went along with it, or why she continued dating him. I really would not have wanted to be in her position, I’m not sure how I feel about the man, and I don’t know if their relationship was healthy in any way, or even that consensual at times. But thats the beauty of this book – it lets you in on that particular experience, and makes you think and question your own stance on BDSM relationships and where you would draw the line. I think that even if you’re a more conservative person, a vanilla person, or whatever – it’s still a good idea, a bit of fun, or just kind of cool to read about other peoples lives and ask yourself the what/why/how and if you can relate in any way.

I had so many questions! I am so curious about who this man was, what happened to him, where he is now, I want to know if he knew that she wrote a book about their time together….

 

 

Going to get my hands on the movie at some point soon…

Review: The Lady In The Van by Alan Bennett

This book was so promising to me!  Who lives in a van for almost 20 years?!?! An old English woman evidently. The movie seemed so intriguing (I still haven’t watched it) and I always think that the book is better than the movie…except in the one case that I didn’t. That will be in another post one day! But The Lady In The Van was a bit of a let down. It was so short, but that isn’t why I was left a bit dissatisfied. The author did a great job of showing us how funny Miss Shepherd was, how totally eccentric she was and just how unreserved she could be. He came at the whole affair with total honesty; talking about how gross it could be, how annoyed he could get, and his inner-most thoughts of the whole situation in having a homeless senior living in a van on his property in Central London. It was a fascination situation and just really begged more questions than answers. There were times when it felt like this woman was the butt of jokes and that the book was for us to laugh at her absurdity, and that felt off. While it was an interesting read, based on true events, and quite humorous, I still felt like Miss Shepherd clearly had mental health issues that I wouldn’t know how to pin-point, and she didn’t get much help other than Alan giving her a place to park her van – which was probably the nicest and most compassionate thing he could do for her.  I wanted to know more about Miss Shepherd. I know that Alan didn’t know much about her and he kept the story sweet and to the point but I want to know more about how she ended up in the van, how she spent her days, and who she really was.

Review: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

 

I know I’m 19 years late on reading this book…I’d seen the movies and didn’t plan on reading it. But then I came across those lists of ’50 Books You Must Read’ and ‘100 Books to Read Before You Die’ and this book kept appearing on the list, surrounded by classics by Austen, Dickens, Orwell, etc. So I was so curious to see what the big deal was. And I really enjoyed it. It was really funny! It was also a very light read so I just flew through it. The diary style (which I suspect Fielding had a hand in making so popular) really made it feel like you alone were in on all of Bridget’s secrets. I also enjoyed the British references and humor. It was very cute how the book references Hugh Grant and Colin Firth – they play Daniel and Mark in the movies. The movie was so close to the book as well that it was really great and didn’t make me think too much about the movie or wonder where they went wrong in the adaptation, or wish they’d put certain scenes in or anything like that. I didn’t relate to Bridget but the beauty of it is that you don’t have to in order to appreciate the book. I feel like the fact that I didn’t relate to Bridget is why I found the book so fun to read. I don’t really want to read about a married woman who spends her evenings knitting in front of jeopardy…